When you think about surgical mistakes, such as operating on the wrong limb, it makes the surgeon sound very careless. You have this idea in mind that the surgeon just doesn't know what is going on, doesn't really care, and acts negligently. It's hard to fathom how that could happen with such significant ramifications on the line.
The truth, though, is that the surgeons often will honestly think that the procedure they are carrying out is the right one. They're not just careless or clueless. They do think they're doing the right thing until the error comes to light.
Take the famous case of a man who had the wrong foot amputated, for instance. The scheduler made the mistake and wrote down the opposite foot. That information then made its way into the operating room schedule and onto the blackboard in the room itself. The surgeon did look at the blackboard and the schedule, both of which gave him the wrong information, and so he honestly thought he was carrying out the right procedure.
He wasn't, of course, and he amputated a healthy foot while leaving the foot that needed to be removed intact. It's a massive error that can change someone's life forever. But it's important to understand how these types of mistakes happen and what events lead up to them. In many cases, multiple people are involved and mistakes get made at various levels in the process.
If you do suffer because of a serious surgical mistake like this, you also want to know all of the legal options you have at your disposal.